My Un-Millennial Preference for Radio

Don’t get me wrong — I’m as big a fan of streaming music as the college student across the hall. Spotify and 8tracks are my best friends to grind through that last lap or final set of readings.

The inner wanderlust pixie in me downloaded a Taiwanese radio app a few weeks ago because I was sick of Spotify’s terrible commercials and would rather hear the buzz of radio ads instead. After playing around with the app I learned that it had an alarm clock and could wake me up in the mornings with the sound of my favorite DJs talking (thank you timezones).

It took a while to get used to actually, waking up to the sound of a calm human voice instead of the blaring horns that usually echo through my studio from 6 to 8am daily. Gradually, I learned not to silence the radio. I carried it with me eyes half closed to the bathroom. I hummed to the songs I knew or didn’t as I changed from my home pajamas to my school pajamas (hah). I listened to weather and traffic conditions, politics and gossip, as I crunched on cereal and sipped on tea.

It’s a shame that radio is going out of fashion. Maybe it’s just that I have an obsession with the late night DJs, their spot on song choices, and empathetic voices, but I think streaming still can learn something — many things — from radio. There’s something magical about it: the fact that through those little airwaves another human being is talking…well…to you.

And no, I don’t mean radio like how we driving millennials surf through the same five Bay Area stations to hear three of the same songs. I mean radio like how it was a culture back in the 20th century, waiting by the speakers to hear songs and people being interviewed (maybe even before, I apologize for my historical ignorance).

Surely it’s an over-romanticized look at the probably low-paying job but the odd feeling of companionship and understanding the radio offers at those strange hours and dreamlike state are something that streaming cannot offer. Not at this point at least.

I feel like no matter how curated, how personalized, how perfect the data-driven machines can predict our music tastes (perhaps even creating songs that don’t exist but we would like), the human relationship between listener and DJ is one that will be difficult to replicate.